Changing iOS default applications

Anthony Caruana
30 October, 2015
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It’s a pet hate of ours and, frankly, a way for Apple to make life a little less flexible for users. There’s no easy way to change the default applications that open when you carry out specific activities. For example, if you prefer using Firefox on your iPhone or iPad you can’t easily change iOS default behaviour, so all web links open in that browser. Similarly, if you want to use Outlook for iOS you’re in a similar position.

What can you do?

Simply put – Apple’s desire to control to user experience so that it is optimised in its view locks out the ability to set default applications is the same way you can in OS X.

However, the good news is it’s not a total lockout.

Many applications let you choose which browser they will open links in. For example, I use Feedly for managing RSS feeds. In Feedly’s settings I can choose which browser it will use for opening links. It’s an imperfect solution as you need to set it in each app you use, but it’s something.

Some developers with several applications in the App Store have designed their apps to work together. So, if you use a bunch of Google’s apps, you can set things so that map, email and web links, when accessed from within one Google application pass the link to one of the other apps in the ecosystem.

Many apps take advantage of Apple’s Share menu that lets you pass content from one app to another. Although it’s not the same as simply tapping on a link and having it open where you want every time, it does let you send content between apps. For example, if you open a webpage in Safari, but would prefer to view it LinkedIn, you can use the share options to take you to the app.

Of course, you could jailbreak your iPhone, but we’re not fans of that method as it does make you more vulnerable to malware.

None of this is perfect. Ideally, Apple would allow you some freedom to choose the default applications you prefer. But at least there are some workarounds for this lock-in.

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